The Warm Home Discount Scheme explained

Learn if you can get £140 off your winter heating costs.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is designed to help vulnerable households with the cost of heating their home over the winter. If you’re eligible to benefit from the scheme, the government will contribute £140 towards your electricity bill.

Our guide covers who’s eligible, which suppliers take part, and the best ways to save on your energy costs.

What is the Warm Home Discount Scheme?

We use far more power during winter than during summer; one study published by the government found that it’s around a third more, on average. The Warm Home Discount, which launched in 2011, is designed to help pensioners and certain vulnerable and low income households with their electricity bills over the winter.

If you’re eligible, the government will give your energy supplier £140 to be credited to your electricity bill between October and March. If you’re eligible and your home has a pre-payment or pay-as-you-go electricity meter then you’ll typically get a £140 credit voucher to load onto your account.

You can request that the payment goes towards your gas bill instead of your power, but only if your supplier provides both gas and electricity to your home.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme operates in England, Scotland and Wales, but not in Northern Ireland.

The 2021-2022 scheme opens on 18 October. If you’re expecting to get the discount on your bill then you’ll receive a letter between October and December. (Last checked: September 2021).

Who’s eligible?

Some households get the discount automatically, while others have to apply.

Who gets the discount automatically?

If you get certain benefits, you’ll automatically get the £140 bill credit. It will be applied if, on 4 July 2021, the following things were true:

  • You (or your partner) were receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
  • Your energy supplier was part of the scheme
  • Your name or your partner’s name was on the electricity bill

If this applies to you, you’re part of what the government calls the “core group” of people who can receive the discount.

Who needs to apply?

If neither you nor your partner receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you may still be able to receive the Warm Home Discount. You can still be eligible for the scheme if all of the following apply:

  • Your household is on a low income
  • You get certain means-tested benefits, which can include Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Your energy supplier is part of the scheme

If this applies to you, then you’ll need to apply directly to your electricity supplier to get the discount. The supplier will decide if you can get the discount. If you need to apply to receive the discount, then you’ll be in what the government calls the “broader group” of Warm Home Discount households.

Do all energy suppliers offer the discount?

No. Under the rules, suppliers who have more than 250,000 household customers have to join both “core group” and “broader group” parts of the scheme. This means that all the larger suppliers will be participating.

From 2020, firms that supply at least 200,000 household customers have had to offer the discount to eligible “broader group” customers.

The government website has a full list of the energy suppliers taking part in the 2020-21 Warm Home Discount scheme.

How to apply

If you’re in the “core group” you’ll receive a letter between October and December 2021 from the government confirming your eligibility. The letter will also tell you if there’s anything you need to do to receive the discount.

The letter will also tell you if you need to call a helpline by 28 February 2022 to confirm your details. If all goes to plan, your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

If you’re in the “broader group” then you’ll need to apply directly to your energy supplier.

The energy market regulator Ofgem sets out guidelines that determine the criteria the energy suppliers need to use when determining which applicants can receive the “broader group” discount. But each supplier may take a slightly different approach to these guidelines, so you should get in touch with your supplier to see if you’re eligible.

Energy suppliers that are part of the scheme typically offer the Warm Home Discount to “broader group” households on a first-come-first-served basis. The number of discounts is limited.

Most suppliers open applications for the discount in summer. So if you think you may be eligible, it’s worth getting in touch with your supplier to see if you’re eligible as soon as possible.

Alternative discounts and ways to save on energy

If you’re worried that you’ll struggle with your energy bills this winter but you don’t qualify for the Warm Home Discount, there are some other government schemes that may be of help.

Cold Weather Payment

If you’re on certain benefits or you claim support for mortgage interest, then you’ll get a payment if the average outside temperature in your area dips to 0°C or below over 7 consecutive days.

The government will give you £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. The money will be paid into the same bank account used to receive your benefits within 14 working days.

You may be able to get Cold Weather Payments if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Full details on how to claim Cold Weather Payments can be found on the website.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you receive the state pension, you may be able to receive the Winter Fuel Payment, which is worth between £100-£300 every year.

As a pensioner, you’ll automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • You were born on or before 26 September 1955
  • You lived in the UK for at least 1 day during the week of 20 to 26 September 2021 (the “qualifying week”)

If you don’t get the state pension, you’ll still automatically receive the payment if you get certain benefits.

If you don’t meet any of the criteria to get the payment automatically, you may still be able to get it by making a claim and applying. The criteria if you don’t meet the above conditions can be pretty complicated. You may be eligible to apply if 1 of the below options is true:

  • You don’t get the state pension and only receive 1 or more of the following benefits: Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit, OR
  • You get any other benefits or the state pension, but live in Switzerland or a country in the European Economic Area (but not Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain)

For full details on eligibility criteria, and to find out how to apply, check the website.

Home improvement and insulation grants

The government offers a range of cash grants to be used to insulate your home or replace your boiler. These measures will help lower your energy costs, especially over the colder winter months.

For a full list of available grants both nationally and in your local area, check the government’s Simple Energy Advice website.

Residents in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Affordable Warmth Scheme, which pays grants to homeowners in order to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes.

Switching supplier and locking in a fixed price

Finally, one of the quickest ways to cut down your energy costs is to compare and switch tariffs. While market conditions are tough, particularly due to reports of gas shortages, it’s still possible to compare a range of suppliers to check if you could reduce your energy costs.

If you want to compare a wider variety of suppliers based on where you live and what you need, just enter your postcode via the “Compare” button below to see if you’re currently overpaying. You could save hundreds of pounds!

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The bottom line

The Warm Home Discount has been operating for almost a decade to help the most financially vulnerable households in Britain with the costs of their winter electricity bills.

If you meet certain criteria, and your energy supplier is part of the discount scheme, then you’ll receive the £140 bill credit automatically. If you don’t qualify to receive the discount automatically, you may still be able to apply for it.

If you meet the criteria then you’ll receive the bill credit, regardless of whether your home uses a credit meter or a pre-payment meter for electricity.

Frequently asked questions

*Comparison powered by Energy Helpline. £328 is the minimum savings of the top 10% of savers who switched with Energy Helpline in the period between 1 January and 30 June, 2021.

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